Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4

Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4
"Medicine Man" (Part 1 of 2)
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Leonardo Romero
Colours by: Arianna Florean

After last issue’s interlude featuring Cindy, Cleo and a surprise cameo from Captain Jack Harkness, Nick Abadzis returns the focus to the Tenth Doctor and his companion Gabby, joining them for an adventure on prehistoric Earth. Abadzis opens the story from the viewpoint of a Neanderthal named Munmeth, a cave-painter who is searching for assistance to prevent his tribe from being abducted by aliens. Abadzis clearly has fun with having a Neanderthal as his protagonist for the first half of the issue, blurring out words that the TARDIS’ translation circuit is unable to interpret into his primitive language. Rather amusingly, Doctor is translated into “medicine man”, providing the title for this two-part storyline. Midway through the issue, Abadzis makes the transition from Munmeth’s POV back to the Doctor and Gabby, which is represented by a duplicated panel from opposite perspectives. This allows the script to explain the more complex elements of the alien abduction plot without the constraints of Munmeth’s primitive dialect getting in the way.

It’s quite fun to see the Doctor and Gabby’s adventures from an outsider’s perspective, as Munmeth stumbles upon them in the midst of an investigation in the alien abductions which have been plaguing his people. I really liked how Abadzis adopted an “in media res” narrative style here, filling in the blanks later on as to why the Doctor had his head bashed in against a rock. It’s a great technique, and has been used to great effect in the show in episodes such as “Blink”. Keen eyes will notice that Abadzis’ script once again returns to the theme of artistry – while previous excursions have seen Gabby (an artist herself) experience various artistic endeavours from the future, this is the first time she has met a fellow artist in the past, and the interaction seems to have quite an impact on her. I really enjoyed how the script tackled the Neanderthals extinction in favour of homo-sapiens and Gabby’s reaction to this inevitability – it reminded me of other key moments where companions have wanted to rewrite history, such as Barbara’s dilemma in “The Aztecs” or more recently, Donna Noble’s pleas to the Tenth Doctor in “The Fires of Pompeii”.


Leonardo Romero is a great addition to the Tenth Doctor comic series, maintaining the same light-hearted elements seen from Elena Casagrande and Eleonora Carlini’s artwork, but also infused with a glossier style similar to that of Scarlett Couture’s Des Taylor. I really enjoyed the straight-forward and smooth style of Romero’s work, which did a fantastic job at capturing David Tennant’s likeness as the Tenth Doctor, but in a similar vein to Casagrande and Carlini’s interpretations. I really appreciate the level of consistency across the artists, especially in this Tenth Doctor comic series, which has made use of similar styled artists to capture the same tone seen in the Tenth Doctor’s era of the show. The only exception is “The Weeping Angels of Mons”, but I found Daniel Indro’s darker, grittier style to be the perfect choice for this more downbeat tale.

I really enjoyed this diversion to prehistoric times, which Doctor Who has seldom revisited since its original serial, “An Unearthly Child”. This story not only works well as a stand-alone adventure, but it also ties nicely to the ongoing artistic theme of the entire series. Nick Abadzis is demonstrating a much stronger and confident voice in this second year of stories, having fun with the time travel element of the series, visiting the past instead of the present and future. I also like the more experimental angle that his narrative has adopted with the storybook pages of last issue and the clever POV juggling seen in this one. All three of the Doctor Who ongoing series are at the top of their game at the moment, and I find myself eagerly awaiting the adventures of each incarnation to find out how their individual story-arcs are progressing. This is truly a golden age for Doctor Who comic fans!


Score - 9.4 out of 10

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor (Vol. 2) # 4 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

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